At the beginning of this year I felt like I had the proverbial rug pulled out from under me. It felt within weeks I’d gone from being in a loving, committed and fully supportive relationship to being left bereft, bewildered and wondering where the hell the cyclone of convenience came from that swept through to leave me relationally destitute. Or in other terms, felt abandoned, rejected and demoralised. Simply, I was devastated.
Merely weeks earlier I’d been told I was perfect for her (& her kids) and she was blessed for having me in her life. We’d discussed future possibilities, celebrated an anniversary whilst on holiday together…then wham! Her decision came out of left field and I was left spinning for months wondering what on earth had happened. I was caught completely off-guard. Perhaps you’ve experienced a break-up like that too?
Without going into the details, personal matters should remain just that and even now I still respect and care for my former partner and her children so there’ll be no dirt or mud-slinging here. No apologies if that disappoints anyone! 😉 But I gotta tell you, the explanation I got at the time was simply inadequate: “it’s not you and boys it’s the girls and me”, and “I’m not emotionally equipped to deal with this”….and then this pearler “I don’t deserve you”. Those responses reveal that the decision had very little to do with me, and those with some level of understanding about worth & value etc will recognise what may (likely) be going on beneath the surface. But this isn’t a blog about her, nor about heartbreak, it’s about having the courage to seize the day when opportunity presents itself.
You see, as much as I’d sought to re-calibrate; including opening up to online dating again (coz where else do you find someone when all your friends and family say they don’t know anyone, or anyone good enough – their words not mine!); as mush as I’d sought solace and comfort (and am thankful for) life-long friends who encouraged the fact I’d fully loved again and shared wisdom that whilst it was painful now (as in when it happened), I could take heart that it happened now and not down the track when things could’ve been more complicated…or in reality, face another divorce (yes that means I was open to marrying again)…something I really don’t want to experience again! As much as I could rationalise, put in perspective (including empathy for her own complex situation), as much as I could compartmentalise and break down what was mine to own and what was beyond my control or responsibility…I was still left adrift clinging to the debris of love-lost.
So here I am one saturday morning a few weeks ago, minding my own business walking the polished vinyl of the local supermarket, when I am confronted by a sight I was neither ready for nor particularly wanting…there she was. We greeted and went through the customary courtesies of kids etc. The conversation came to a natural conclusion and we said goodbye.
I was left heavy-hearted, not so much pining for what we once had, but rather some of the news about one of her children whom I cared dearly for and what I heard caused me to want instantly go and give her a big hug. You see I’d shared in her struggles for over a year and knew intimately the challenges this incredibly intelligent, bright, witty and gorgeous young woman was facing…and in that moment I was grieving, again. I wandered a few aisles and thought…hang on a minute, this isn’t ok. And this leads into the awkward conversation I had to have…
Have you ever found yourself needing to have one of those? Maybe with a sibling, a parent, someone at work or maybe even a friend? Maybe you grew up in a household where elephants and clearing tables were common place and robust discussion and honesty were heralded as important for healthy relationships? I didn’t. In fact, there are so many metaphorical rugs with rippling undulations from the mounds of unspoken conflicts and disagreements that I could open up a recycled rug outlet, or a rubbish dump, or both. I’m thankful that with dad, in latter years we had intentional honest listening-oriented robust chats, but I’ll save that for a future blog. I miss our chats. So, back to it…here I am faced with a choice. Here’s what I chose…
I doubled back and gently went up and asked “Seeing as we’re here I want to make the most of this coincidence…”what really happened, coz you know what, you broke my heart and I was left confused and it’s been a really hard year”. My friends laughed and applauded my balls to have gone back; my friends were proud of me. Me? I was proud, and relieved. We’d always been able to talk openly together. This second chat (the details of which remain private…boundaries people!), whilst awkward was open and honest and because of that, healing. It filled the gaps of the unknown. I finally got to ask the questions that had been staring like shadows over my soul.
Whilst we didn’t kiss and make up and there’ll be no romantic tale of restoring that love-lost (sorry to disappoint those hoping that would be the case – no Hollywood happily ever after here), I now know that if we bump into each other unexpectedly again the air has been cleared for simple honest and respectful chats, knowing that we loved once. Being who I am I know the reality is that I will always remember her fondly, be thankful for the time we shared and memories we created, for I learnt to truly love again. Truth be known, even though there is no future together, I will always love her and her daughters for they took residence in my heart, isn’t that what happens when we open our hearts and let people in?
Whilst I had already moved on cognitively, I’m glad I listened to my gut, swallowed some harden-up and intentionally walked towards her that second time, for I was finally free to walk away.
Is there someone with whom you’ve had one of those type of conversations?
Or perhaps you need to?
I was reminded how unresolved pasts may haunt our future. Be bold and CARPE DIEM! Live with no regrets.